Portsmouth PC sacked for using his job to pursue relationship with domestic abuse victim
A POLICE officer has been dismissed after using his status as a PC to pursue a relationship with a domestic abuse victim.
Portsmouth-based Officer A, specially trained in domestic abuse, was assigned to the woman’s case but invited her to his home, asked her out on a cocktails date, kissed her on the cheek and hugged her outside court.
A panel today dismissed him without notice following a nine-day hearing at Hampshire police headquarters in Eastleigh.
But the panel, led by a barrister flanked by a lay member and serving Hampshire detective superintendent, ruled he cannot be named by the media.
Officer A did not attend the hearing today to learn of his sacking.
Panel chairman Sarah Gaunt said: ‘His actions were intentional and deliberate.’
She added: ‘The conduct was a fundamental breach of public trust.’
Ms Gaunt said he was ‘in a position of trust’ and ‘had a responsibility to provide support and assurance to a vulnerable, if not highly vulnerable, domestic abuse victim’.
She added he had recently been trained in domestic abuse and ‘should have been aware of the consequences of his actions’.
The hearing was told he made some, limited, early admissions and did have some regard to the victim’s welfare.
But Ms Gaunt said his actions were ‘planned and targeted,’ were an ‘abuse of position of trust as a police officer’ and caused psychological distress to the victim.
She said: ‘Given this officer’s specific role, this panel’s decision is that the least severe sanction that can be imposed is dismissal without notice.’
He bombarded her with calls and messages, while off duty and from his own phone, in a bid to pursue an inappropriate emotional or sexual relationship, she said.
His actions caused the woman, who cannot be named, to distrust police in general and Hampshire Constabulary specifically.
Officer A deliberately deleted messages between him and the woman in an effort to protect his position, Ms Gaunt said.
Yesterday Victoria von Wachter, presenting the case, said ‘The officer was in a position of trust with a vulnerable victim.
‘He concealed wrongdoing and continued with this behaviour even though he knew it was inappropriate.
‘The officer's conduct has fallen well below the expected standard, this will erode the trust and confidence the communities have in Hampshire Constabulary.’
The panel ruled that the officer could not be named, saying in a statement: ‘Media are unable to identify officer A as a reporting restriction was put in place.
‘The decision has been made based upon a review of medical evidence which supports the requirement for the officer to remain anonymous in order to protect their welfare.’
Deputy chief constable Ben Snuggs said the public should have trust and confidence in the police as such behaviour is ‘rooted out’.
He said: ‘There is no place in policing for those who use their position to abuse the trust placed in us by vulnerable members of the public.’
He said Officer A’s pursuit of a relationship – said at the hearing to be sexual or emotional – ‘not only impacted on her trust in the police, but on the trust the public place in us’.
Mr Snuggs added: ‘Every member of our workforce should always uphold the highest levels of professionalism and integrity at all times, especially in the execution of their core policing duties.
‘It is what the public expects from us.
‘We know that on the occasions when they don’t meet these standards, we are rightly questioned on what we are doing to ensure our communities can continue to have trust and confidence in us.
‘The actions of this officer not only let down the woman he was supposed to protect, but also undermines the exceptional work his colleagues do every day to keep people safe.’